A Definition Of Local Food
Local food is food which is produced close to where it’s consumed, usually supported by a strong social infrastructure and different from the big-scale commercial supermarket system. This type of local food often originates from farmers markets, where local producers market their products to people who shop in and around the community. The benefit of such a system is not only its direct availability; it also has the ability to encourage local economic development and employment opportunities. This form of local food has a wide variety of benefits including better nutrition due to direct access to local produce, as well as an emphasis on local economies. These benefits are generally overlooked in favour of the convenience, value-added and perceived ‘taste’ of mass-produced food. But, if you truly care about local food, you shouldn’t just be concerned with value-added or convenience factors; local food should also be a good investment for your community.
The benefits of local food are twofold: firstly, local food reduces our carbon footprint, through the reduction of greenhouse gases linked to transportation, and secondly, by extension, it promotes economic development by creating jobs, which leads to a more vibrant economy. A recent report published by the World Wildlife Fund highlights the need for developing countries to increase the protection and use of national parks and other natural areas for local food production. Such protection is not just important for biodiversity; it’s also important for local food security, since access to natural resources like water, land and forests is limited and precious. In many parts of the world, including Latin America and the Caribbean, increasing demand for organic products like milk and palm oil has led to habitat loss and conflict over traditional farming and fishing practices.
So how can we best define local food? By focusing on food that is produced locally, and by supporting small-scale local business owners, who have direct access to local produce, and ensuring fair-trade practices. By avoiding fast food and processed foods, and investing in local food, we can help to ensure that those who live in the local area, and who eat local food, enjoy greater food satisfaction, and better health. It’s crucial that the definition of local food includes food items produced by smallholder farmers who benefit directly from local trade. This helps ensure that the term is well understood, and that people realise the impact of the ‘locavore’ movement on local economies.